Browne Jacobson successfully appeal PI claim against Fulham Football Club
Judgment confirmed test for civil liability in competitive sports settings should be set very high
Browne Jacobson, acting for Fulham Football Club, has succeeded on appeal to overturn an earlier court ruling that the football club was liable for a sliding tackle made by one of its former under 18 players in the course of a competitive match.
The judgment in Fulham Football Club v Jordan Levi Jones  EWHC 1108 (QB) confirmed the test for civil liability in a competitive sports setting should be set very high.
Matthew Harpin, Browne Jacobson partner, said: “This is a really significant decision dealing with the circumstances in which a court may reach a finding of civil liability following an allegedly dangerous or reckless tackle in a competitive game of football.
“We are delighted that the judge found in Fulham’s favour on all four of our grounds of appeal and agreed that civil liability must be a rare finding in this arena”.
In handing down his judgment, Mr Justice Lane, held:
· The standard of civil liability is set at a materially higher level than a mere breach of the Rules of the Game of Association Football;
· It is vital for a judge considering a sports injury claim to consider the context and the realities of a fast-moving, competitive game of sports;
· The judge in the first instance failed in his duty to give reasons for his decision to prefer the opinion of the claimant’s expert over that of the defendant’s expert;
· The finding that the Fulham player “could not be sure” what he might contact when deciding to make a challenge was not enough to meet the test for reckless or quasi-reckless behaviour in the context of professional football; and
· Courts must give some consideration to the reactions, if any, of the referee adjudicating the football match.
The incident that was the subject of the claim occurred during a match on 10 December 2016 at Motspur Park, London, between Fulham Football Club and Swansea City Football Club under 18s.
Towards the end of the first half, Fulham's Jayden Harris tackled Swansea's Jordan Jones and the latter suffered an injury to his right ankle.
Jones issued a claim against Fulham Football Club, as the employers of Harris, for being vicariously liable for his actions, on the grounds the tackle amounted to negligence ont he part of Harris.
In delivering his judgment, the judge held Fulham Football Club was vicariously liable for Jones’ actions. The club appealed the decision on four grounds and were successful.
Browne Jacobson instructed Luka Krsljanin of Blackstone Chambers to represent Fulham Football Club at the appeal.